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Aural Training Index Page Aural Training

Aural Training is all about learning to recognise sounds using your ears. It's an essential part of your development as a musician and could be the thing that transforms you in way that will help you find your own voice!

Stop, Hey, what's that sound?

Aural Training (or ear training) is a very important part of musical development. Learning to recognise sounds will help you in many ways, most importantly it will help you Transcribe and accelerate your ability to work out songs on your own.

It really can be quite incredible and I have had many students say that after a few months of consistent work on Aural Training that they can hear music better, that they can separate the instruments easier and hear new depths in recordings they thought they knew well.

I grew up transcribing, it was the way I learned to play songs, but when I started doing Interval Ear Training it took it to a whole new level. Doing a lot of transcribing will teach you the intervals sonically and to some extent on the neck, but once you know the names of the intervals too it makes it easier because you can 'put a tag on it' and know for sure what it is. Learning the names of the intervals is also great for communicating ideas with other musicians and understanding harmonic analysis.

Harmonic vs Melodic Intervals

There are two types of interval listening, harmonic and melodic. In harmonic intervals the notes are played at the same time and in melodic the notes are played one after the other. Easy to remember: Melodic Intervals make melody, Harmonic Intervals make harmony! I recommend that people start with Ascending Melodic Intervals, then once that is mastered move on to Descending Melodic Intervals. Only when both of these are rock solid should a student approach Harmonic Intervals and chord structures.

Rhythmic Dictation

The other part of aural training that is very useful is rhythmic dictation. This is best done by writing the rhythms when you transcribe, but it can be pretty tricky and hard to just start doing it. The best way to get going is to learn to read and understand the notation and then practice tapping out the various rhythms - check out my eBook called Understanding Rhythm Notation, a book full of rhythms... pages and pages of rhythms to read, and a load of instruction on how to read and it's progressive, going from simple 8th notes to complex syncopated 16th not patterns. If you go through it you will really know all your rhythms very well indeed and writing down the rhythms you hear will be a lot easier because you will already know what they sound like!

The Theory Behind The Names

Many of you will probably want to understand how the names of the intervals are found and how to work out the note names in every key. For this info you probably want to check out Practical Music Theory which will guide you through all the basic theory concepts and give you a solid grasp on all the essential basics!

Helpful App

To help people make the most of this I have created an Ear Trainer App which follows this course exactly, the same intervals in the same order, ascending, descending and harmonic! You can listen to guitar sound or piano, and input right onto a guitar neck diagram so you develop a bit of feel for where the notes are in relation to the intervals. It's really helpful for any of you getting into this stuff.


Hope you find this stuff helpful and that it all makes sense. The most important thing though is that you do it... and lots of it :)

Good luck!

Aural Training Video Lesson Series - Best place to start!

In this video lesson series I give you practical examples, explain the song references, show you the intervals on the guitar neck and then get you to do a test. It works. Get your ears in shape now! Stay on each stage until you can get at least 80% correct in the tests - it makes it a lot easier if you do this stuff gradually, so don't be in a hurry!

Ascending Melodic Interval Ear Training

AU-101 • Aural Training - Stage 1
In this first stage you will learn to recognise the Perfect 4th and the Perfect 5th intervals by using song references, we'll spend some time listening to them and then and do a test so we can see how well you were listening!

AU-102 • Aural Training - Stage 2
Now that you have a couple of intervals in your ear, we will learn the Major 2nd and Major 3rd Intervals, and do 2 more tests to make sure you are getting the sounds in your ears properly and clearly. Make sure you are confident before moving on!

AU-103 • Aural Training - Stage 3
The Major 6th and Major 7th and Octave Intervals are up next. They are a little harder then the previous ones, but it's not too bad, and then you have done all the diatonic intervals. Plus we have two more tests for you.

AU-104 • Aural Training - Stage 4
Now we get into the non-diatonic notes (notes not found in the major scale) which are a little harder. Just take it slow, practice and you'll be getting them in no time! We're checking out the b3 and b2 intervals... then there are 2 tests to do.

AU-105 • Aural Training - Stage 5
OK, now we check out the min 6 (b6), min 7 (b7) and the augmented 4th (#4) intervals, which means we've then done all the chromatic intervals in an octave. This is a big step and if you can get this solid then you are doing great! Two tests at the end to see if you have them solid!

At this stage you need to do loads of work and get to the point where you can name with pretty good accuracy any ascending melodic interval after just one listen. Once you have that nailed, then start work on the descending intervals... and then eventually onto the harmonic intervals.



AU-001 • Aural Training Basics
How to start, what to do and why! Seemed like lots of people were really struggling with the concept, so thought I'd make a start here and explain the basics in one video.

AU-002 • Song References For Interval Training
Both ascending and descending intervals with song references - remember it's the song references that will make things easier for you, so get stuck in!

AU-003 • Singing Exercises For Aural Development
Get the sounds in your head by singing them :) It really is the best kind of ear training exercise, your ear will improve greatly and probably your voice too if you have not used it much!

AU-004 • Intervals On The Guitar
Find all the intervals on the neck with 5th and 6th string roots, very important skill and will help a lot when transcribing, and also for interval work.

AU-010 • Aural Tests
Some examples and how to make your own, which is very useful. There are apps like my Ear Trainer and web sites that offer stuff, but best of all is your own stuff ;)

AU-011 • Aural Test Answers
Answers to tests. Don't cheat!!


Start testing yourself!
Once you have a rough idea of what you are doing - it's time to start using the Justin Guitar Ear Trainer application! It goes up in levels so you have to get 90% or higher to move on to the next stage! There is also a high score so lets see who gets it!

The Justin Guitar Ear Trainer

Big thanks to Martin Schrodt for making me this application - much appreciated dude!



Lesson ID: AU-000